Best Turkey Trots of Texas

By Monica Hand – October 31, 2018
Photo by Jim Herndon


Thanksgiving is historically known for being the holiday with copious amounts of food, but it’s also beginning to develop a growing number of Turkey Trot traditions throughout the country — a flawless counterpart to this celebration’s indulgences.

With so many options to choose from, even just within the borders of the great state of Texas, it can be hard to find that seamless fit for your Turkey Thursday traditions that the whole family will enjoy. Luckily, some of the most unique turkey races can be found just a short distance from Austin.

One of the most distinctive finds is that for the inner speedster at the tenth annual Grub Run in Fort Worth. This unique 5k is performed on the Texas Motor Speedway track, letting these trotters feel some major race car vibes as they can stop along the laps for extra credit “pit stop” activities that burn a few more calories for a few more slices of pie later on.
The added effect of surrounding stands filled with friends and family give the race even more of a NASCAR race feel. The spectators just need to bring five cans of food to benefit the Tarrant Area Food Bank to cheer on their favorite runners.

For a trot tradition with almost as much historical background as the turkey on your table, the Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot takes the cake— or pumpkin pie in this case. As the oldest race in Texas, the trot dates back to the early 1940s when the races were sporadic at the Old Fairgrounds.

By 1967, the race was an annual 8-mile run of over 100 participants “to the oak tree and back” at White Rock Lake. Once the popularity grew, the trot moved to downtown, changed from an 8-mile race to a 5k, got certified and — just like that — became one of the Dallas area’s longest running traditions. 

To add to its claim to fame, in 2011 The Guinness Book of World Records sent an on-site judge to declare the new records broken. That 44th annual race had broken the largest attendance with 36,820 trotters, but most importantly the race had also broken the record of most people gathered together and dressed as turkeys — 661 people to be exact.

This explains all those turkey hats you see everywhere on the great trot day throughout the country.

In contrast, a smaller, more intimate race will take place at the fifth annual Drippin’ With Thanks Thanksgiving Day 5k race in Highpointe. The idea for this live-local, run-local, give-local charity event came from a 12-year-old girl just four years ago. Now, each year, local Dripping Springs students help organize the race that aims to benefit Helping Hands, an organization that reaches out to local families in need.

With over 200 trotters each year, this student and parent-led race had raised over $10,000. It’s an inspiring concept that these families take time out of their holiday festivities to not only actively participate in the trot but to also directly organize together in order to give back to those in their own communities that may be less fortunate.  

And then there is the hometown hero of Austin’s own ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot. Starting with just 600 participants in 1991, the 5-mile race has grown just as much as Austin itself, as now it draws almost 20,000 trotters from all over the nation.

This race, known for its size, is also known for its loyalty to the local community, businesses and traditions that have been with it since the start. Each year, the race gives all proceeds to Caritas of Austin, a nonprofit that focuses on the prevention and dissolution of homelessness in Austin and the surrounding areas. The race has donated an amazing total of $3.5 million over the past 27 years — and it doesn’t plan on slowing down.

But it wouldn’t be an Austin race without some fun traditions, too. Every year, the race holds a T-shirt design contest that is open to any artist. The winner receives 365 ThunderCloud Sub vouchers and, of course, their artwork on every race day shirt in the sea of runners. 

No matter which race you choose to use as your calorie burnout before that Thanksgiving feast, at least you can say you earned that pumpkin pie induced food coma.  


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